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Bluegill illustration


North Dakota Game Species

Sunfish Family: Sunfish family members are deep and stockily built, attractive in coloration and popular as panfish. Most sunfish spawn in early summer, when water temperatures warm to the mid-60 and low 70-degree range. Male sunfish build nests by excavating soft substrate with their fins to expose sand, gravel, roots or other firm objects for females to lay their eggs over.

Bluegill Identification

  • Dorsal fin has a spiny front portion and a soft-rayed rear portion
  • Varies in coloration, but usually is dark olive above, with dark vertical bars on the upper sides and orange or yellow on the throat and belly
  • gill covers are blue with a black tip on the flap


Bluegill have a relatively small mouth, and often feed on insects or other invertebrates.

It is probably the most popular member of the sunfish family in North Dakota, however, at times it may be stunted due to overpopulation.

They are often called sunfish or sunny.